In circumstances where best practice guidance either cannot be followed or is not applicable, licences can be obtained to allow persons to carry out activities that would otherwise be prohibited, without committing an offence. Natural England has powers to grant licences in England for the purposes below:
preserving public health or public safety or other imperative reasons of overriding public interest;
preventing the spread of disease;
preventing serious damage to livestock, foodstuffs for livestock, crops, vegetables, fruit, growing timber or any other form of property or to fisheries;
science or education, conservation, ringing or marking;
possession of species or derivatives.
Please note that Natural England can only issue a licence if it is satisfied that the activity meets one of the above purposes and is also satisfied that there is no satisfactory alternative, and that the action authorised will not be detrimental to the maintenance of the population of the species concerned at a favourable conservation status in their natural range.
We are introducing a discretionary chargeable service to provide advice on certain mitigation licences – for further details please see Pre-submission screening service for EPS mitigation licence applications.
For the most up-to-date assessments of favourable conservation status please see species assessments on the JNCC site. Following the amendment it will be possible to carry out some activities under a general licence rather than applying in each individual case for a separate specific/individual licence.
If you are unsure of which forms to use or need further advice contact us.
You will find our guidance ‘How to get a licence: (928kb)’ useful in understanding the licence process and our requirements.
As part of recent process changes the application forms for development, health and safety, damage and disease now consist of 3 separate documents required for a complete application. The documents can be sent on CD or by e-mail (subject to size), there is no longer a requirement to submit paper copies. However, you may still submit on paper only if that is your preference, in which case they need to be supplied in the quantities noted in brackets below. Please note that the maximum size for drawings is A3.
Application forms are regularly updated and so before starting to complete a new application for a licence, please ensure that you use the most up to date forms by downloading them from Mitigation forms and guidance below.
Section one - Application details (submit two copies if a paper submission)
Section two - Method statement (submit three copies)
Section three - Reasoned statement (submit one copy)
For further details of procedural changes in the way Natural England handles OPI licence applications from March 2009 see the EPS mitigation page on this site.
Natural England has produced a statement: (142kb) welcoming the June 2009 judicial review judgement in Woolley vs. Cheshire East Borough Council & Millennium Estates. The judgement clarifies the responsibilities of competent authorities in discharging their duties in relation to European Protected Species.
If you intend to apply for a licence for development you are advised to seek the guidance of a consultant ecologist. Natural England's view is that:
A licence is needed if the consultant ecologist, on the basis of survey information and specialist knowledge of the species concerned, considers that on balance the proposed activity is reasonably likely to result in an offence under regulation 41; or
If the consultant ecologist, on the basis of survey information and specialist knowledge of the species concerned, considers that on balance the proposed activity is reasonably unlikely to result in an offence under regulation 41 then no licence is required. However, in these circumstances Natural England would urge that reasonable precautions be taken to minimise the effect on European protected species should they be found during the course of the activity. If European protected species are found, cease the work until you have assessed whether you can proceed without committing an offence. A licence should be applied for if offences are unavoidable and the work should not be re-started until a licence is obtained.
The application should be completed by the developer and a consultant ecologist. The ecologist will need to be able to demonstrate to the satisfaction of Natural England that they have the relevant skills and knowledge of the species concerned.
Where there is a genuine need to take action that will affect a European protected species for public health and safety reasons you can apply on the relevant form below or contact us for further advice.
Bat species in respect of development or public health and safety, damage or disease only.
Please note all 3 sections must be completed (e.g. barn conversions with maternity bat roosts present).
European protected species – how to get a licence. WML-G12: (928kb) If you wish to apply for an EPS Mitigation licence, please read this guidance first. It explains the information you must provide and why, and it will help you understand the process.
Bat mitigation - frequently asked questions (available shortly)
Example Method Statement - bats: (446kb)
No two situations are exactly the same; the example describes a farm with Brown Long-eared Bat and Common Pipistrelle Bats. Real sites supporting these species may require adaptations of those ideas in the example.
Great Crested Newt in respect of development or public health and safety, damage or disease only.
Please note all 4 sections must be completed (e.g. office block development on land with ponds containing great crested newt)
European protected species – how to get a licence. WML-G12: (928kb)
GCN annexed licence FAQs: (90kb)
GCN mitigation – frequently asked questions (available shortly)
Disease screening for Chytrid (when proposals are to move GCN over 2km from the donor site).
Dormice - Application for a licence in respect of dormice affected by development or public health and safety, damage or disease.
Please note all 3 sections must be completed (e.g. Road development affecting hedgerows and copses containing dormice)
European protected species – how to get a licence. WML-G12: (928kb)
European protected species (except bats, dormice and newts) for all activities other than research, education and conservation.
Please note all 3 sections must be completed (e.g. housing development affecting sand lizard or natterjack toad)
If you wish to carry out a survey, research or conservation project forms and guidance are below.
European protected animals (except bats) Schedule 2 for survey, science, education or conservation WML-A29: (175kb)
Schedule 2 Species List
European protected animals (general) for science, education or conservation Schedule 3 species WML-A30: (173kb)
Schedule 3 Species List
Bat species for science, education or conservation only WML-A34: (170kb)
|Guidance on references for applicants: (47kb)||Report: (107kb)|
Plant - Schedule 4 of Habitats Regs.1994 in relation to science, education or conservation WML-A31: (302kb)
Schedule 4 Species List
If you wish to possess a live European protected species or a dead specimen or a derivative, forms and guidance are below.
|European protected species possession application form WML-A37: (286kb)|
(e.g. Non accredited museum holding EPS specimens acquired after 10th June 1994)
Guidance on possession, sale, transport and exchange of Annex IV species NEPG1: (176kb).
You may not need to apply for a specific licence see general licence for possession.
|European protected species sale application form (all species) WML-A38: (271kb)|
(e.g. collector selling EPS specimen)
|Annex IV species List: (148kb)||WML-LR38: (208kb)|
Woodland managers can obtain information, best practice guidance and licence application forms (woodland and forest management) from the Forestry Commission or by telephone 0845 3673787 (0845 FORESTS).
If you have a query about a marine European protected species issue (as protected under the The Offshore Marine Conservation (Natural Habitats, &c.) Regulations 2007) please contact JNCC on 01224 655701 or 655716 or 655718 for guidance. The JNCC's Interim guidance on interpreting the deliberate disturbance offence with regards to marine European Protected Species (cetaceans, turtles and sturgeon) for English and Welsh territorial waters and the UK offshore marine area is available online.
Licences for action affecting marine European protected species beyond 12 nautical miles can be obtained from the Marine and Fisheries Agency. Licences for action up to 12 nautical miles can be obtained from Natural England (England only). Please note this form is not yet available but will be shortly.
Natural England monitors compliance of licences issued. Licensees should be aware that they may receive a request for a site visit by one of the Wildlife Advisers to assess site conditions against the details given in the Method Statement or other part of the licence. It is possible that Natural England may undertake a site visit prior to the issue of a licence to confirm that the details of the site are accurately stated in the application. The majority of site visits will be arranged several days in advance and will be conducted in the presence of the licensee or applicant.